Revisiting the vision of Swami Vivekananda on National Youth Day, 2022
It was that era in Indian history where Indians were taught that our religions and culture were primitive, barbaric, and superstitious. An era where the British rulers wanted to spread their ideology, culture, and religion upon a civilization they starved and left to perish.
This was the milieu in which Swami Vivekananda attracted the world’s attention to our philosophy. His greatest legacy was that he made India aware of the national ideals, philosophy, and culture it should fight for. Moreover, he educated Indians of our evils, and the need to refine the culture of discrimination, misogyny, and false beliefs.
He had a vision of a nation we’ve not been able to achieve still.
His teachings and influences
His visit to Kerala is famous, where he was shocked by the social inequality, discrimination, and superstitions. He referred to the land as a “lunatic asylum” on witnessing the atrocious caste and gender discrimination. He was particularly concerned by the conversions of lower caste people to Christianity and he called out the dominant castes and elites to stop the social injustices that scared people away from their own culture.
He was disheartened by the loss of our ancient knowledge base and practices, the study of Vedas and Vedanta, and of the erasure of Hindu philosophy. He meditated on the rock in the middle of the sea in Kanyakumari to find answers to the material and spiritual maladies of his people. It was after emerging from the dhyana in Kanyakumari he dedicated his life to the welfare and uplifting of the common masses of India.
What he realized in dhyana, he professed his entire life: that the soul of this nation was in its spiritual philosophy and true freedom can only be attained by saving it and the culture built on it.
When he made the famous speech in Chicago in 1893, he made the entire world cognizant of the same. He implored the West to understand his culture in its true spirit and to recognize its relevance in the modern world. He urged shedding the assumption of inequality of civilizations and seeing how Hinduism is on par with other religions.
Promoting Hindu philosophy around the world
Swami Vivekananda, like many others, knew that Hinduism had the answers to many problems his countrymen and the world faced. He introduced the practice of meditation to the world.
This land was the land of tyaga, vairagya, bhakthi, gyan, and moksha. No other land had a knowledge base so pristine and veracious. That is the knowledge Swami Vivekananda practiced and preached.
He glorified and revitalized something that was left to die, and the world is better for it. To this day, we revere him for his efforts to spearhead a national movement rooted in spiritual wisdom. Even after 75 years of independence, we are very far from creating a society where our children can learn about the greatness of our culture and shun its injustices. Instead, we are still taught that our culture is all about the injustices in society.
The truth is, the answers to them lie in our vast knowledge base. Swami Vivekananda urges us to see it. And on this National Youth Day, I request you to do the same.
To learn about the equality, oneness, and justice discussed in the Vedas, Bhagavad Gita, and sastras. And to live according to the Gyan, bhakti, and sadhana prescribed in them.